A NATION OF HEROES
Astonishing 500,000 volunteers to help out ++ Expert says virus could peak by Easter ++ 3.5m testing kits ‘are nearly ready’
AN INCREDIBLE half a million volunteers have enlisted in an NHS army to fight coronavirus.
The aim was to recruit 250,000 in a week but double that number signed up in the first day – a rate of five a second.
They will now support up to 1.5million patients whose cancer or other serious illness means they must stay at home for three months to try to avoid Covid-19. The overwhelming public response came on the first real day of optimism about the rampaging pandemic.
Intensive care units will now probably be able to cope with the outbreak thanks to the strict
lockdown, according to Neil Ferguson, a professor advising the Government.
A University of Oxford academic then said a vaccine might be available within six months. That was followed by the deputy chief medical officer suggesting we could be over the peak of the crisis in three weeks.
Public Health England also said it hoped to be able to roll out 3.5million tests within days to find out who has had the virus and now has immunity.
The NHS reported last night that Covid19 had claimed another 41 lives in Britain, a sharp fall from the 87 on Monday. In other developments:
▪ Prince Charles tested positive for the virus but is said to have mild symptoms;
▪ Parliament was shut down and will remain closed for nearly a month;
▪ Boris Johnson will hold a conference call with world leaders today to co-ordinate a global response;
▪ The PM warned retailers they faced wartime-style laws if caught profiteering;
▪ The NHS promised to provide free parking for all healthcare staff for the duration of the outbreak;
▪ The Government launched a WhatsApp service to provide trustworthy information on symptoms, prevention and the latest number of cases;
▪ A row erupted over the numbers still being forced into work, while police continued to enforce breaches of the lockdown order;
▪ A 21-year-old woman with no underlying conditions has died from coronavirus along with a UK diplomat in his 30s;
▪ Thousands of prisoners may be freed following the first death in a jail;
▪ The Chancellor prepared to reveal a package to help the self employed;
n A row erupted over how banks were administering business crisis loans;
▪ Nearly half a million Britons claimed Universal Credit after losing their jobs.
Figures from NHS England show that as of 7.45pm yesterday, 504,303 individuals had registered to be ‘volunteer responders’, far exceeding the expectations of officials in the NHS and the Government.
They will volunteer in one of four roles including collecting groceries or prescriptions, bringing patients home from hospital, making regular phone calls or delivering supplies to NHS sites and pharmacies.
Boris Johnson said he wanted to ‘offer a special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS’. He added: ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY
‘They will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus.’
The appeal was launched on Tuesday by health Secretary Matt hancock who paid a special tribute to the Daily Mail’s ‘brilliant’ hospital helpforce campaign of last year.
Many of the new volunteers had lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. They include flight attendants, performers who should have been on stage and costume designers at a loose end.
The NHS has now expanded its target to 750,000 volunteers although officials stressed there was no limit.
Chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘We are blown away by this response and the kindness of our country.
‘I can’t thank those enough who have pledged to devote their time to helping others at what is a challenging and uncertain time for you and your families.’
Last night the Royal Family tweeted: ‘Volunteers always have a huge role to play in society, but never more so than in difficult times – and for that we salute you.’